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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

Do you need Social Security?

Jun 29, 2021 05:33AM ● By Dr. Glenn Mollette
Social Security Card

In 2020 over 64 million Americans were collecting Social Security.

The National Institute for Retirement Security (NIRS) reported that Social Security is the only income source for 40 percent of retirees over the age of 60. The study also claimed that only 6.8 percent of retirees receive income from the three-legged stool—Social Security, a defined benefit pension and a defined contribution plan.

Another study conducted by researchers at the Social Security Administration found that only 19.6 percent of Americans 65 and over received at least 90 percent of their total incomes from Social Security. That’s a big difference from the stat provided by the NIRS.

Nevertheless, the point is that for millions of Americans, Social Security is either all they have or mostly all they have. Also, there are some government employees who have their own pension system and do not pay into Social Security.

Social Security taxes take a bite of our income from every paycheck. Employers and employees each pay 6.2 percent of wages up to the taxable maximum of $142,800 for 2021. The self-employed pay 12.4 percent. Some self-employed struggle with paying the 12.4 percent and look for creative ways to only report a small salary. This may enable you to have more cash now but your Social Security check will be much smaller when you become retirement age.

Religious objectors can often be exempted from paying the tax. I knew a minister who in his younger days did the paperwork to exempt out of Social Security. It was one of the biggest mistakes of his life. When he became 65, he couldn’t quit working. He had also drawn out most of his other pension savings for emergencies.

With meager retirement dollars, he was also faced with having to buy Medicare insurance. To make matters worse, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. At a relatively young senior adult age, he had nothing with which to fight. He was tired from his long years of work. He had nothing financially saved. He couldn’t stop working. Medical insurance became a dilemma and within two years he was dead.

Social Security is not a perfect world. It won’t make you rich, but you’ll be glad you have the check and the medical insurance.

Keep this in mind: The average monthly Social Security payment for 2021 is $1,543, and the maximum you can receive at full retirement age is $3,113 a month. If you have waited until you are 70, that amount is $3,895. These figures change all the time depending on cost-of-living adjustments and how long you work and how much you pay into the system. The longer you work and the more you pay into Social Security, the more you collect at retirement.

So, go to work and be glad for every dollar withheld from your check for Social Security.

Dr. Glenn Mollette is a graduate of Georgetown College, and Southern and Lexington Seminaries in Kentucky. He is the author of 13 books, including "Uncommon Sense." His column is published weekly in over 600 publications in all 50 states. 

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